About Mindful Self-Compassion

Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) is an evidence-based program developed by Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff.  Marcia Burton is excited to now be a Certified Teacher of MSC, offering MSC training courses on Salt Spring Island, BC.

One way to define self-compassion is to treat ourselves as we would treat a good friend, or to treat ourselves the way someone who loved us would treat us.  Research shows that 78% of people are more compassionate towards others than we are to ourselves.  Learning to be more compassionate with ourselves doesn’t mean we have to care “less” for others, rather to care “more” for ourselves.  Instead, developing self-compassion calls us to invite ourselves into the circle of those for whom we care.  The more we care for ourselves, the better we can care for others.  As the saying goes, “The wise woman waters her own garden first.”  Many of us understand this, but why is it so hard to put it into practice?

Combining mindfulness with self-compassion helps to address this.  We all carry hurts from the past that have left us feeling undeserving, self-critical, mistrusting, etc. towards ourselves.  Mindfulness helps us to build awareness of the subtle (or not so subtle!) ways in which we treat ourselves harshly, rather than with kindness.

The Mindful Self-Compassion training course is full of guided meditations and experiential practices that allow us to explore bringing kindness towards ourselves in the presence of supportive others.  “Common humanity” is the third primary element of Mindful Self-Compassion, which really gives it power.  When we use mindfulness to explore self-compassion in the warmth and presence of others, the stuck and frozen ideas we carry about ourselves begin to melt.  We realize that although we are sometimes hurting, flawed, lost, etc., we are not alone.  We begin to touch the possibility of relief, that this is an essential part of being human, and not some individual defect that we, alone, carry.

There is a lot of research into Self-Compassion.  If you’d like to read more, here is what Christopher Germer has to say about it:  http://self-compassion.org/the-program/

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A little about my journey with MSC

I began training in Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) in 2015, and became a Certified Teacher in 2019. Through the use of simple and ordinary guided meditations and experiential practices, I have become aware of how hard on myself I am, and how common that is. MSC has helped me to bring kindness, care and mercy to my experience, and to myself, and to “warm up” my mindfulness practice.  It has been a real gift and a source of joy and relief for me.  I use it in my counseling practice with clients, supporting people to consider motivating themselves with kindness instead of criticism, and to practice treating themselves with the same type of supportive attention with which they would treat a friend. I especially like the concept of bringing kindness to ourselves when we are in pain, not to make ourselves “feel better”, but just because we are hurting. This paradigm shift, in itself, relaxes our habits of striving and invites an attitude of softness, paradoxically helping us to feel better without trying.

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